Menu planning made easy: tips for your next dinner party


Dinners and drinks have become more popular since the pandemic. As the cost of living rises, more and more of us are staying home and inviting friends and family over for informal feasts or fancy nights out. If you’re hosting an event, here are some tips to simplify menu planning.

Consider your guest list

The first step to take when developing a menu is to consider your guest list. How many people are coming and do your guests have any dietary requirements or stipulations about what they drink? If you have guests who don’t drink, for example, or you have a vegan friend, you’ll need to take that into account when ordering food and drinks and planning your menu.

Think about the type of event

The next step is to think about the type of event you want to host. Do you envision a sophisticated sit-down meal with all the options, or do you prefer an informal buffet, brunch or barbecue? Are you celebrating a special occasion or is your gathering simply a chance to treat loved ones to good food and company and enjoy a long-awaited reunion? Match your menu to the theme and mood of the event. For a low-key occasion, you can opt for platters to share or snack on or a hot or cold buffet. For dinner, why not push the boat out with canapes, a 3-course dinner and coffee and mints or a cheese platter to finish?

Make your menu distinctive

Every host wants their party to be memorable for the right reasons. If you’re in charge of catering, it’s a great idea to make your menu distinctive. You can do this by channeling a theme, customizing dishes, or adding something special like a signature cocktail or a bottle of premium whiskey from a online whiskey auction. Get creative with ingredients and presentation and provide an experience. This can include show cooking, presenting food at the table, making cocktails, or playing with ingredients that guests can add themselves, like a hot sauce that melts a chocolate sphere for dessert.

Celebrate the ingredients you love

Food always tastes better when cooked with passion. If you’re cooking a feast for friends or relatives, it’s a great idea to celebrate and showcase the ingredients you love. Make the most of seasonal produce and use flavors you’ve experienced and enjoyed before. It is always beneficial to try dishes several times before sharing them with others in order to perfect the recipe and check preparation and cooking times.

be practical

Dinners are a golden opportunity to spend quality time together and enjoy delicious food and drink, but they can be stressful to organise. If you’re in charge of catering and preparing drinks, be practical. Choose dishes and menus that complement your skill level and give you plenty of time to prepare ahead of time and spend time with your guests.

Planning a menu is one of the most exciting parts of hosting a dinner party, but it can also be one of the most challenging. If you’re hosting, consider your group size and guest needs, make your menu distinctive, and think about the type of event you want to host. Celebrate the ingredients you love and make your event stand out.

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